A submission to WCC meeting about Begging – 13 April 2016

by Busker Mark and the Mp3’s
Elvis is Busking Outside the Building
2001 Founder – Bus Tunnel Studios

 While making a submission at city Hall, I also shot video of the meeting. Wellington City Council has been very good about media and my blogging with the following video. Begging is a complex subject and everyone has a strong opinion about the subject, from ‘Leave those Poor People Alone’ to ‘Begging should not be Be allowed at all.’ There is a Local Body Election coming up in a few months. This could become an interesting issue.

2 of the 3 videos in this post are now complete

Video 1 – My proposal to the Council for a panhandlers permit

I am not the only busker experiencing aggression from some of those begging, just because they want to set up on the same bit of the footpath. 15 years ago I often played Courntey Place and Cuba Mall every weekend at night. Now it’s not even safe in the daytime down Lambton Quay. Thugs only motivated me to start talking to everyone around me (in a Council Flat, including local beggers) about what is a fair solution for all. Everyone has a strong opinion. Then I took this proposal to City Hall.

Being a busker and a media producer, I record my own backing band ‘Mark and the Mp3s’ and with a set called ‘Elvis is Busking Outside the Building’, I get to meet all generations of people. A lot of folk while I am busking, have contributed to this 8-point proposal for WCC, conditions in this proposed Panhandlers Permit. Many of the rules reflect aspects of the Busker’s Licence, with a time limit and leave space for others to also work the footpath. Compel everyone to share and be considerate.

So I took along my small domestic video camera on a tripod, into the public gallery to record this important event, for a historic record of street culture in this city. A few of the WCC were spooked by my video camera for a while, but nobody complained. So I am grateful to be able to present to you all, edited highlights (removing the word ‘um’) of what happened at the council meeting.

I intend to release this video production in 3 parts;

Because I was granted to be the first one to speak about this complex subject, I was able to set a tone for the meeting. I called for everyone to share locations on the street, suggesting a limit of 3 hours, then let someone else have a turn on the money spots. Compelling everyone to share the streets, to reduce intimidation.
Almost all of the other speakers got to make a reply to some aspect of the 8 points I made about what people around me think would be good conditions for a begging permit. The Inspector was asked by one Councillor, “what did the police think about the enforcing of a Panhandlers Licence?” Just as well I wasn’t expecting much.


Part 1

is 6 and a half minutes long. It has highlights from the start of the meeting and my short speech then answering 1 question (with proper fades, scrolling titles & a music riff).

[ part 1 – ] I was grateful to be the first speaker to the meeting

Part 2

will hopefully be released within one week. This will include highlights from many of those who followed my proposal for a 3-hour time limit, to reduce intimidating aspects of this subject. There was another proposal to do more research.
Most of the following highlights are where they reinforce what I was outlining at the start of my proposal, or some of the new permit’s 8 suggested conditions. Others were speaking in direct response to some of the suggestions I made at the start of the meeting.

This Video blog site, is all about my experience Busking in Wellington and recording music with a computer and some old guitars. Begging has affected life so much on the streets everywhere over the past 2 or 3 years, so that is why I took it on myself to research what kind of things would be a fair and workable compromise for everyone.

[ part 2 – Others who made submissions at the meeting ]

The 3rd part

of this project is of an interview at Access Radio following the meeting. Mike Dunningham conducts a regular show about issues for mental health consumers. He knew I was going to address the issue of Drop-in Centers like Courtneys and Tin Palace closing down due to massive DHB funding cuts. Those most vulnerable in society have just been tossed out on the street with nothing else to do. Mike came to support me at the meeting so we also discussed our impressions of what we though of the proceedings.

[ part 3 – Insert link to Youtube Video – when it becomes available ]


In conclusion:

That was quite a productive morning, then I went busking in Bay Road for the rest of a sunny afternoon. For once there was nobody begging, in 2 hours I got $20 in coin. Some days I am lucky to make $5 per hour. Busking is not exactly a living wage.

After viewing the video a few times, I think that I can see why Council put this issue into Park Mode. That is to fund more study and tell beggers about remaining social services. There is a local body election in a matter of months this year. So the first reaction of the City to looks towards the Police for an answer, the Shopkeeper also well knew this would be met with a negative response from the police inspector.

I am grateful to have this introduction to the people at City Hall before an election, so I will be able to follow this issue throughout the campaign trail in October 2016. This is not a time to give up, just because they kicked the issue into touch for now. But I will get around a bit with my old video camera and record what they say on begging.

Perhaps there could be a new role and training for the City Hosts, in regards to this complex civil rights matter. Folk should not be further punished just for being poor. People who live in Wellington and are on any kind of benefit and get behind on payments then give up hope for another rent increase, should be our first concern.

I intend to make a low budget documentary about my attempts to compel everyone to share and be considerate to those reduced to begging and the hard working buskers. I must admit that there is no clear line between. Some are just entertaining people.
The modular format I use for telling this story, allows me to start putting edited video up on the Blog Site within days of a major event and the election cycle.


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